It's easy to confuse love with mania, Jamison says. Most of us may have been unhappy enough at one time or another to recognize a fit of depression, but the other half of the disease (the mania that leads to everything from religious fervor to shopaholism to insatiable libido) is much harder to fathom.For instance, hypomania, which is a mild form of mania characterized by enviable productivity, can lead to what is called a "mixed state," in which the bipolar individual is both miserable and energetic enough to do something about it.
But because Sara clung to the structure so fervently, I followed her lead. The parameters of our life together drew further and further inward, until we were living in a tiny, airtight box created by the quirks of her disorder.
I became not only her enabler, but her progeny as well.
From a distance, I'd seen how much energy it took Nyla to keep her episodes under control: weekly doctor's visits, blood tests, complicated regimens of medications.
And yet for all their problems, my bipolar buddies had always kept things interesting.
At eighteen, she enrolled in the Ivy League university she'd dreamt of attending since childhood, and within a semester, was incapacitated by depression; she dropped out and returned to L. Sidelined for years, she was finally looking forward again: doing PR for a record label and working part-time toward her bachelor's degree. When I looked at Sara, I felt inspiration, not pity.
And even though I'm not the type to plunge quickly into relationships, I was convinced I was in love. Aside from a quick trip to clean out her studio apartment a few weeks later, she never went home."Of the two of us," I told her as we lay happily in bed, "I must be the crazier one."Nine months later I stood over her pale, unconscious body, frantically dialing 911 for the first time in my life.
Sara was twenty-seven, and what people used to call a wag: smart, quick-witted, encyclopedic.
She could recount every failed Everest expedition in mesmerizing detail -- the sort of a talent I would expect of a rock climber, not someone who'd never gone camping. Then I found out."There's something you should know about me," she said, a couple of hours into the date. I tried to remember if I'd sipped from her drink."I'm bipolar," she said."Good," I replied.
This is partially thanks to the ubiquity of advertisements for medications like Abilify and Zyprexa, and partially due to diagnoses, which have doubled over the last decade.